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Help Your Payroll Department End Time Theft for Good

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A few minutes here. A late return from lunch overlooked there. Time theft can seem so trivial until you consider it in the aggregate. Research from 2016 found that 43% of hourly workers admitted to rounding up their weekly work hours. Buddy punching alone has been determined to cost U.S. employers more than $373 million each year.

Take steps to minimize time theft at your company and to plug those leaks in your payroll. The result is found money.

Go biometric

If you want to eliminate time theft – a biometric time clock is the way to go. Installing biometric time clocks to front-end your time and attendance system makes buddy punching or doctoring timesheets impossible. Ignore the myths about biometrics. There are numerous options, including fingerprint and retinal scans.

If you can’t go biometric – at least get rid of the paper

Maybe your company isn’t ready to install biometric time clocks despite their positive ROI. At the very least, you need to throw out any manual time reporting. It neither impresses accountability on your employees nor provides your payroll department any meaningful oversight of time reporting.

Implementing a time and attendance system with an automated time clock front-end stamps out people who round up each time entry or add a little extra in on paper time sheets.

Implement practices that minimize time theft based on the time clock you have

Whatever time clock method you are using to capture work time, you have options to reduce the potential of time theft occurring.

For example, anyone still using punch cards (hence the phrase “buddy punching”) can remove centralized storage of everyone’s punch card. A buddy can only punch in on someone else’s card if he has access to it.

If your system requires employees to time punch using a PIN or password, encourage the use of a password they wouldn’t want to share. For example, your company could require they use the last four digits of the social security number as their time punch PIN, or to use their network password as their time punch password. These are bits of information most employees wouldn’t want to share with co-workers.

Look for the strange

At one point or another, everyone is late. Two people never consistently arrive or leave together. Get pro-active about finding the red flags in your employee hours reporting. With an integrated time and attendance system, you can easily obtain insight and access to employee punch data. You should also be able to seamlessly design custom reports to find unusual patterns, such as an appreciable increase in average time worked by an employee over a period of time.

Backup your reporting with a clear and consistently applied investigation and remediation process (if needed) when you do find time reporting abnormalities.

Be upfront about your company’s time theft policy and consequences

Prevention is far less costly than remediation. Your company should communicate its policy on handling suspected and confirmed cases of workforce time theft to all employees. Make it part of new employee orientation, include reminders in relevant HR or other internal communication channels, and put up a short slide deck on the company portal that explains what does and does not qualify as time theft.

If you have any more questions about what time clock can be right for your business, contact us today. Before you leave, check out How the Right Time Clock Can Improve Time and Attendance Reporting to learn more ways you can ensure your company is only paying for time worked.



Biometric Usage: Growing concerns over the privacy and security of biometrics are driving government regulations surrounding the definition of personal data and how to protect it. These regulations vary from country to country, state-to-state, and in some cases city by city. Most often the governing regulations are dictated based on the location where the information is being collected. It is important to understand the local regulations in the geographic areas in which you operate. If you are uncertain regarding your regulatory obligations, we encourage you to consult with your legal counsel.